Symbian^3 T9 sucks? Try Baidu Portrait QWERTY, English/ Hindi

Update: For people, who faced issue of not opening up any keyboard after install, I have updated the link now, try this link in place of last one and follow the same instructions. 

This app is not new and was reported by Jay and Asri-Al-Baker earlier, but the interest I received on twitter after mentioning about it made me think that no many knew about it. So thought to bring it as a post for all of you.

If you been following me on blog or twitter, then you might already be aware that how irritating Symbian^3 T9 input been for me. This was one of the biggest reason that I was most excited when @janole decided to bring portrait QWERTY to Gravity.

Thanks to @HardikLive for almost pushing me to try the Baidu Input again otherwise I was permanently away from it after trying the last version that was a mess for me. Let’s see what is Baidu?

Continue reading “Symbian^3 T9 sucks? Try Baidu Portrait QWERTY, English/ Hindi”

Portrait QWERTY to Symbian^3-Gravity shows that what Symbian can do

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Its very easy to blame things and saying that Symbian is dead, but it takes genuine talent and vision to show that its not the technology, but its what you do with it. The transparent and split keypad design of Gravity that I was talking about in last post, finally arrives in Alpha stage and available for reviewing it, which stands for just another example that its not rocket science to fix the things.

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If you might have given such a regarded name like Gravity, then it becomes difficult to exceed the expectations from himself and it janole, who always came up to raise the bar. Let’s see, what he doing with Symbian this time ..


What special about this custom keyboard?

Not the very first time, when someone might have taken the task of creating a custom keyboard for some app only. If you are unable to recall, then let me remind you, you have seen the keypad of opera mobile.

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But when it comes to design something like so native yet so important then usually developers feel out of innovation. While it doesn’t look so in first glance, there are too many minor details that could go bad, when designing a keyboard, like right size of keys (see smaller and almost unusable Opera Keys) or no mention of word count in native Non-QWERTY keypad on Symbian^3 as of now at least. Not only that, but even most basic things that people always taken for granted, when get designed from ground up, the suddenly become a challenge.

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Though its only an Alpha build and still lots of things are missing here, but in the above screen shot, you find the following things special:

1. Transparent design, which don’t let you slip the context for which you were writing
2. A glossy touch in buttons and background behind them
3. Word count and that too in enough big fonts +1 from my side
4. An entire new, generic or Google map kind of Geo Tag sign, look more relevant than earlier now
5. Largest screen real state provided to the text in comparison to others
6. A big space bar in the middle of bottom
7. Send button on top means no accidental sending

Not sure that its the same split keypad design that I was assuming it to be in last post, but its sure look exactly, what I thought touch keypad must have looked like


What are the tricks with this keypad?

Well, the very first thing you will get comfortable with is gonna be the landscape mode due to bigger room and bigger keys, but for some strange reasons, the send button is missing here (obviously just got now).

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In the first build that was 1.32 6670, there was a little space remaining on the top, which you can’t really notice easily but could have taken advantage by sliding the finger upside and the tweet was posted. Though it was a annoyance too as caused many accidental tweets by me, when I was trying to adjust some words. Anyway, janole removed the option with second build that is 1.32 6671.

On pressing the close button, then tweet will go in draft mode and then you can use the same old send from there, though same wont be the case when you will be sharing some pics from images section means you have to go to portrait after typing there.

The geo tag get a blue color here, in place of green earlier, dark grey when selected and trying to get a lock, faded grey, when not opted. Though I have not figured out that what color does it take when get a network based lock only, which was orange in case of earlier gravity build. Still I guess Green and Orange were better.

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The up arrow icon in left side, works for caps lock and the double arrow in the right works for the backspace (though backspace doesn’t work like Swype for deleting whole world in once), but the most exciting thing is inside the second screenshot if you would have noticed the highlighted V letter. Yes! you guessed right, Janole has not only raised the bar by bringing the split keyboard kind of design, but also the multi-touch (at least for one option) to the keypad.

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You also find the special character support here, like the one shown in first screen shot that appears when you press and hold ‘P’ and similar with some other keys which might bring some variants.

P.S. Forgive for that annoying sign of connection failed due to poor connection at my place.

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Keeping the numeric keypad behind the press of bottom left button might be uncomfortable for people, who might have gotten much used to of Swype, but still I will call this a neat design.

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Reply/ Send/ Retweet buttons appearing in portrait mode only as of now. Though, if your retweet exceeds 140 character limit, then you wont be able to see the button, even if touching at the same place will still work for sending off the tweet.


What’s still pending and could be expected in final build?

Not sure that Janole took this task as just an addon to Gravity or really thought since start that how big it could be, but I am sure that initial responses might have given a clue that people really wanted an alternative of default layout. But when we look closer then the smoothness of the design is still without some very basic things.

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  1. There is no scroll bar kind of thing, which is not a big thing as whole of text box system on symbian is designed that way, but still it may cause problems sometimes like you can see in above screen shot. Last line is just unreadable and you have to go by guesses only. I wonder, if the same has been reason behind the fact that Janole never tried to implement twitlonger inside Gravity as that feature was asking for a scrollbar implementation and hence weight over UI. This has been corrected by @janole with version 6671.
  2. As of now, keyboard is not customizable. No vibration on keys or option to just disable it completely.
  3. Absence of arrow keys is sure a big pain provided there is no predictive mode as well.
  4. You can not select some portion of tweet to delete or copy, which come in contrary of the excitement due to availability of Ctrl + V option.
  5. When Janole is designing this keyboard taking Gravity in mind, then ‘@’ must have been prominent and easily accessible.
  6. As of now, it doesn’t look like Swype gonna integrated in it, while everyone will want so.

Besides, the above, there are something, which we kept on asking from Janole from quite a while like auto completion of names, which sure gonna be possible once the predictive tying and custom dictionary makes the way to here, which will be a toll over the performance as well. Not sure, if it would be an easy thing to do.

Here is the download link for the same Alpha Build of Gravity, give it a try and feel that its not the case that Symbian is dead, its the way its being handled by developers, who are probably confused in fragmentation.


So these are some of my observations and inputs about this Alpha build. Please comment, if you want some more or I missed something important here. Yours words will reach to Janole.

Nokia E72 Diary Continued-Day 3

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Its really hard to cope up writing everyday while you own busy personal and office lives, but here I come again, keeping my promise at least for the first day 😉

May 05, 2010

First starting with the issues related to  Connect PC to Web Mode. After a day, now its a little easier to connect, but what I have figured out is this

  1. The cable provided with the set seems to be a little different than usual cables provided with other models. I have at least three cables with me from Nokia N82, Nokia 5800 and Nokia 5310, but I found that it never connected internet with any of them even though it was connecting well in other modes.

    Strange!!! not sure, if this is right conclusion, but this is what I found. Particularly annoying due to much small size of cable, I mean what you thought when provided an around 6” cable with it?

  2. I guess as the trend started with NSeries devices, Nokia keeps the data settings burned inside the Smartphone and though that works with most of the connections, probably that didn’t happened with my case. 3G is not wide spread in India till the moment and still its in process of Auction. MTNL/ Providing the same in selected areas and might be the case that Nokia chosen not to burn in the settings before it get full-fledge.

    I am not sure about my this observation particularly, as theory says it should pick any web connection from your E72 means Wi-fi, 3G, GPRS whatever. If this is so, then it must be reading from the device itself (same it says). But if it so, then why missing the settings I have made?

NetAnyway, end of story,now I am able to connect well but may be need to figure out what are the manual ways, so troubleshooting (if ever required) would be easier.


Exploring the home screen of Nokia E72

Might be  the case that I was not that into home screen customizations with Nokia N82 or Nokia 5800, but home screen of Nokia E72 seems quite fascinating. Well built professional look keeping things low yet effective enough.

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You could see, how much informative the little screen is. More of it, things are much customizable for almost everything here, after all its a Nokia.

Right and left Menu could be set for any of the app, so are the apps on the standby screen (first horizontal row). The vertical row get chosen from 15 options and though you are allowed to configured at most 10 email accounts through Nokia Messaging, but on home screen, you could choose any two of them to get displayed (one will be called as primary mail and the other will be called as secondary). By the way, Nokia Messaging works flawlessly and I think only delay between getting your mails might be of 1-2 mins. More of it, the way it renders the mails is also much efficient. You may expect another review of mine around Nokia Messaging soon.

Once you rover over the SMS notification or Missed call notification, its shows you info without even opening SMS inbox or Call logs in form a lightweight pop screen. Same you could choose from setting for any of the mail account or both of the mail account and then when you will point over the account, it will pop up a little note showing sender, subject and time about unread mails only. Definitely, business class.

Though I am not using the same, but there is an option for mode switch (right top of the screen in pics, could be customizable), which may be used to switch from Business mode to personal mode. It means you will have two home screens that could be customizable as per your need, with different preferences and different themes. Sure a good idea for people, who don’t like being boring professionals all the time, probably Nokia E72 is all about such people only.


The third point to notice was Typing on Nokia E72:

05052010173Yes!!! we all have seen and heard about the legendary keypad of Nokia E71 and Nokia E72. They have really became kind of benchmark for this shaped Smartphones in real. So, what’s more about them?

We get the numeric keys in the middle in the similar way, we always had in our old Nokia phones except the fact that ‘*’, ‘#’ and ‘0’ keys are on right side this time not at the below of the keypad. Interesting additions are ‘Enter’ and ‘Ctrl’ keys at right bottom. Just above them there is also a backspace key, which works for cancel/ delete key (as were in older Smartphones). Good is to have keys like ‘@’, ‘?’ and ‘!’ directly on single keystrokes as these one go quite of importance while typing business mails, though I missed an ‘_’ key on one or two strokes here, but you cant please all in such a small space. Rest of the symbols are under Symbol key that uses the same pattern of keeping recently used symbols in first line.

There are other functions on long press of keys as well. Though I am not yet aware of them all, but as you could see yourself, long press on Ctrl Key make music muted/ unmuted, long press on Symbol key makes Bluetooth on/ off and for making many people out there smiling, long press on space key makes your Led Flashes on like a white light torch. Don’t know how that would go over the battery, but the light of the torch is this much good that you could use the same for studies for a while. 😉

Really the space provided for Keypad seems to be very very efficiently utilized and remains as an inspiration of design for other companies coming up with their QWERTY models.

Yeah!! as one should expect, if you start type a number directly on blank screen then it takes numbers as input and if you type on some SMS or Mail, then numbers go behind to be secondary keys (activated via function key at the left bottom). Seems a natural thing, but keeping the natural thing working well in design is what make something likeable.

Next lovely things that I experienced first time in Nokia N900 was again back here; predictive typing. Yes! there might be dictionaries in other models as well and predictive typing might be kept on in other Smartphones as well, but these two experiences were only two that felt practical too me. In start, suggestions might be little annoying sometimes, but it learns really fast, like which words you used, what spelling you use, which are the name, everything goes really natural the way Microsoft Office does. Auto Completion of words is something hard to forget or to be without once you get used to of it.


Not to mention like other ESeries models, we have full version of Quickoffice (Editing and creating new documents allowed) here compatible with Office 2007 files and so for Acrobat files as well.

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Interesting was to see the informative view of SMS inbox, even better than S40 devices view that I always loved.

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So, here I am ending Nokia E72 Diary of today. Still not getting time for the other trial device Nokia BH-905. Very bad of me, I know, but office taking me 8:00 AM-9:00 PM, what more you could expect after 9:00 PM?

Now you could download the app for this blog on your Nokia (Symbian5) via  this link or widget via this link.

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